How to be the Perfect Speaker

Somehow this year I found myself wrangling speakers for three conferences. It was a good challenge, and I now know how to identify my perfect speaker.

The perfect speaker gets deadlines, is respectful and is engaging. Here how they do that —

Submit your bio, photo and workshop description on time. Conferences have many speakers and if everyone is late with their details, it throws off the entire schedule. The information is needed to post to the website, to send a “Save the Date” card and to develop the program. Speakers should also adhere to the required content lengths. If I have to edit someone’s bio, it may not be to their liking, and I’m inevitably stuck in a back and forth email volley until it’s the right length.

Confirm your presentation requirements at least two weeks in advance. Conference organizers want to ensure that they have everything speakers need for an effective presentation. Usually organizers will reach out and ask, but as a speaker, if you have a special request, let them know. Many years ago, we had a speaker who requested a bar stool for her presentation. Knowing that ahead of time prevented last-minute scrambling.

Remain on point. The session description provided to the conference is in many ways a contract. When attendees read it, they are expecting to hear that content. Don’t disappoint the audience. When creating your presentation, make sure it fits within the allotted time so the session does not run long. Ideally, the conference will provide a time keeper to keep everything moving, but if it’s a small conference, do your part to stay on time.

Repeat the question. It’s challenging to hear in rooms. When you take audience questions, repeat them so others will know what was asked. It also means that your answer will make more sense.

Decide on your equipment. Some speakers like to use their own equipment. If that’s the case, be sure you have all of the necessary adapters and power cords. Just in case, have your presentation on a thumb drive. If you don’t want to bring your own laptop and will be using the conference equipment, provide your presentation in advance so it can be loaded and tested on the equipment that will be used. And again, bring a backup copy on a thumb drive.

Connect. Audience members are looking forward to learning from you. They may have more questions following your presentation. If your schedule permits, take the time to connect with audience members who rush to the front with their business cards. Some who rush to the front may simply want a selfie with you because you inspired them. Talk about a great reward!

Promoting Your Experts

If your job is to get media placements, you may want to consider how you promote your experts.

It’s not enough to respond to media inquiries and connecting the reporter with an expert in your organization. Nor is it enough to pitch your expert directly to reporters.


Image courtesy of Deanne Taenzer, ExpertFile

In today’s short and ever evolving news cycle, you have to be ready. And that means being able to raise the profile of your experts.

How do you raise their profile? It’s not as hard as you may think. In fact, you likely already have many of the pieces that would enable you to do so.

I picked up some great tips on this topic from Deanne Taenzer, ExpertFile’s vice president for business development. She is an authority on developing online thought leadership content programs that use an organization’s experts.

“There is so much scattered content,” Taenzer said. “We need to collect it in one place so others [reporters] can find it.”

It’s about making it easy for journalists to find the experts they need. Journalists seek experts who are relevant, credible, engaging, influential and responsive.

Content pieces that contribute to an expert’s authority include:

  • Biography Create a current biography of your expert, including a photograph.
  • Media Assets Include a list of all media outlets in which the person has been quoted or appeared.
  • Social Media Note the person’s social media if it’s relevant and if the person has a strong following. If your expert tweets about a relevant news story, it’s likely a reporter will see it and express interest in speaking with her.
  • Research Include a list of published research and links, if relevant. This demonstrates the expert’s scholarly work.
  • Speaking Engagements List what groups the expert has spoken to and what the topic was. Include the audience size if known.

These pieces address the needs of journalists. When they are located in one place, it makes it that much easier for the journalist to find the appropriate expert.

The idea is to create a directory for your experts. You can partner with a firm like ExpertFile or do it yourself.